By: Eric Penner Haury
For: Red Rock News
Date: April 12, 2013
Sedona Artist’s Work Featured at Library
My name’s Eric.
I volunteer at the Sedona Public Library. Virginia Volkman invited
me to write this week’s article because I’m involved with an exciting
event that will be held at the Library on April 14.
Have you ever been to
the Bank of America here in Sedona? If so, did you notice a picture
in the corner of Navajo men riding horses into the distance, hooves
kicking up dust that blurs into canyon walls? The color is faded
from years in intense light, but the beauty and artist’s skill remain.
Do you know who painted that?
His name was Jeffrey Lungé.
He lived here in Sedona. He was a prominent Arizona artist and
On April 14, at 4:00 PM,
the Sedona Public Library will present Jeffrey Lungé: Visions of the Southwest. In words and
pictures -- including many of his paintings, some on slides, some hanging
in the room -- we will celebrate Jeffrey’s life and work, as well
as offer for sale a book of his art with the same title as the presentation.
Born in London, an immigrant
to the Americas, Jeffrey was introduced to the Southwest by his brother-in-law
(my grandfather) Ned Danson. Danson was a Southwestern anthropologist
here in Arizona who went on to run Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern
Arizona. (And the fact that his name sounds like Ted Danson is
no coincidence.) On family trips, Ned introduced Jeffrey to what
would be the central theme of his art: the Southwest, its vast,
beautiful environments, and its peoples.
Danson recalled, “I
told him to ask me to stop whenever he saw a mesa or a cliff, a tree
or a vista he wanted to sketch. Jeff opened my eyes to the beauty
of this part of the world. I knew I loved it—but with his artist’s
eye he would show me things I would have ignored—colors I hadn’t
“Lungé’s watercolors have a tactile quality that engages all
of the senses: one smells the dust carried by the wind, hears the snorting
horse, or senses the serenity of the solitary shepherd,” wrote former
Museum of Northern Arizona Art Curator Katherin Chase. “His
style is unique—his warmth is sincere—his ability to capture the
spirit of a land, of a people, is rare. It is seldom that an artist
attains that magical spirit, that ritualistic air, that sensitivity
of appreciation for an environment. The artist’s style is romantic—almost
mystical, for often only the essential elements of a scene are conveyed,
and thus the imagination of the viewer is called into play.”
For two decades after moving to Arizona, Jeffrey Lungé had a
career of unparalleled success. He had yearly one-man art shows
in Scottsdale; every painting sold. They were bought by prominent
families like the Goldwaters and the Babbitts, institutions like the
Arizona Bank (now part of Bank of America), and ordinary collectors
moved by the Southwest and the skills of the artist. He hung up
his brush in the late 1980s, and died in 1993. He is buried in
the red Sedona soil with family, including his brother-in-law, Ned Danson.
The Navajo and Hopi, introduced to him by Danson, feature prominently
in many of Jeffrey Lungé’s paintings. And Jeffrey treated them
with respect. Knowing that the Hopi disliked photography or sketching
at their ceremonies, Jeffrey painted the scenes he saw from memory.
When Hopi opinion changed so that they no longer wanted outside artists
depicting their ceremonies, Jeffrey Lungé respected their wishes.
His later Hopi works focused on people in their everyday lives.
As Danson supported Lungé in life, he also supports him
at this event. Along with Jeffrey Lungé: Visions of the Southwest, we will also be selling Edward Bridge Danson:
Steward of the New West, a biography of Ned Danson, sharing the
remarkable adventures including a voyage across the world on a sailing
ship in his youth and service in the South Pacific during World War
II, all leading to a long life and career in Arizona, the very Arizona
that Jeffrey Lungé portrayed so expertly in his paintings. All
profits from the sale of both books will go to support an academic chair
in Ned Danson’s name at the Museum of Northern Arizona.
“Each person that views one of my paintings becomes a partner
in the adventure of reconstructing the essence of the subject,” Jeffrey
wrote. Join that partnership at the Sedona Public Library on Sunday,
April 14 at 4:00PM. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News and is also presented on Sedona Biz.
Eric Penner Haury is a Sedona Public Library Volunteer.